Science-based Animal Welfare

WelFur is a science-based animal welfare assessment programme voluntarily initiated by the European fur sector in 2009. The pan-European implementation of WelFur begins in 2015 with 10 European countries participating in the pilot scale. When rolled out, WelFur is unconditionally the world’s most advanced animal welfare assessment programme to be implemented on continental level. Overall, the WelFur system has three objectives:

  • To provide a reliable on-farm animal welfare assessment system based on scientifically proven measures and independent third party assessments.
  • To improve animal welfare on European fur farms through analysing of the assessment data and education of the farmers.
  • To provide consumer transparency on the welfare status on European fur farms by publishing assessment data.

The welfare assessment protocols for fur farmed species (mink and fox) are developed by independent scientists at seven European universities1 and were published in 2013 and 2014.

These protocols work as science-based ‘manuals’ for the third parties assessing the individual fur farm. Based on the principles of the European Commission funded Welfare Quality® project, the programme takes on a multi-faceted approach to animal welfare that considers all important welfare parameters including the animal’s positive and negative emotions, health, natural behaviour, the housing system, feeding, human-animal relationship and how the farm is managed.

Steen Henrik Møller, a senior researcher at Aarhus University, is one the scientists developing WelFur. He explains what makes WelFur so valuable as a science-based animal welfare assessment programme.


1) University of Eastern Finland (Department of Biosciences), MTT Agrifood Research, Finland (Animal Production Research), Aarhus University, Denmark (Department of Animal Health and Bioscience), Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Department of Animal and Agricultural Sciences), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Department of Animal Environment and Health), University of Utrecht, The Netherlands (Department of Animals in Science & Society), French National Institute of Agronomic Research